Tire Warmers: How and Why

by David Podolsky

THE KEY TO CHASSIS PERFORMANCE

When discussing tires, factors include grip, traction, tire longevity, chassis performance and suspension performance.

In addition to propelling us forward and keeping us upright through corners, tires are our first responders. The initial point of contact with a track’s bumps. they act as our bikes’ initial suspension component. To do this they deform, then quickly return to shape in a process called hysteresis. Carcass flexibility and tire pressure also play important roles in maintaining traction.

To produce grip. a tire must be soft enough that the track’s surface irregularities make an impression in the tread rubber. This permits maximum “mechanical keying.” The tread rubber must also have elasticity, high tensile strength and resist tearing so that the tread rubber engaging the track surface doesn’t get torn and scrubbed off.

HOW TO USE TIRE WARMERS

Now that we’ve covered the basic concepts of how tires provide grip. let’s explore the most effective methods of utilizing these tire-prep and grip-maintenance tools to manage traction and wear. and increase safety.

It’s better to heat tires up slowly and gen­tly, asking them to begin working once they’re up to temperatu1·e-when their carcasses are supple and have greater elasticity.

We want the tire surface to be hot, but internal carcass temperature is more critical. Carcass temperature is a true reflection of how much heat is in the tire. It also affects tire pressure and carcass flexibility.

HOW TO SELECT TIRE WARMERS

A tire warmer’s job in your pit is bring the tire carcass up as close as possible to the temperatures they’ll see on the track. It’s important to select a tire warmer that spreads heat evenly, drives that heat into the carcass,

and then keeps the heat from escaping.

High-end tire warmers typically have a much longer heating element that spreads heat energy more evenly. For example, CHR’s Professional Series rear warmer puts out 550 watts and has Teflon-insulated heating elements every 9 mm, which works out to 185 feet. This is less than 3 watts per foot. Having the same power but spreading it out heats the tire more evenly and keeps hot spots from forming. Instead of barbequing tires, this gentler operation has the desired “oven effect.”

Get educated and take the time to select the right tire warmer for your use. A good quality tire warmer should last five to seven years even if used often-as long as it is cared for properly. Look for a company that offers a great warranty, does repairs and services the product in-house. Compare information on heating ele­ments. insulation quality. temperature-control systems and casing materials.

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